Oh no. It’s December and Christmas is looming and the internet has gone mad already as people start ordering online and the UK has gone mad as it hit the streets (and each other) for discounted goods last Friday. A day we have come to know and hate as “Black Friday”. Personally I can forgive the Americans a little bit more for introducing it on account of the fact that at least they spend the day before being “Thankful” for all that they have and giving lots of food and other stuff away before going out to fill the space right back up again. What do we do? Absolutely nothing but go out and fight people for bargains on a day that really ought to be about something more uplifting than about the battle for yet more material goods.
I still don’t think I’ve mastered Christmas as a single parent. It still feels immensely painful to say goodbye to my children on the day (even though – in case they read this and take offence of course I am really looking forward to Christmas with my brother’s family and mother this year!). From the moment that we were no longer together as a family, Christmas has felt very different. No longer the safe secure option I was used to. Often, post divorce, in the lead up to the day, it has caused us all much anxiety as we try and find a way to make it work for everyone (impossible). But as we all get more used to it and more aware that frankly there are very few people in life who really do succeed in the smug family Christmas I am beginning to think that perhaps it has been a good thing to shake it all up a bit.
This year I am thinking about taking my children to help serve lunch to the homeless. My friend did that last year and nearly broke her wrist (don’t ask). However, it was a very valuable thing to do. Also what about all the really lonely people around who don’t have any family – maybe we should all be inviting one stranger to join us at our table. You never know what you might learn and how important that invitation might be to someone.
My daughter is going to Africa for Christmas. GOOD PLAN. I would love to go somewhere (another year, obviously – in case my brother and mother are reading this) with my children and experience something entirely different. Do something brave (but not too cold).
So I’m wondering how everyone else is managing their family Christmas – we all know dysfunctional is the new functional – I’ve been saying that for years, but any top tips on how to make it work would be gratefully received because essentially it is still a time for families to get together so no matter how hard I try, there is always that element lurking at the back of my mind. But that’s the key isn’t it? It’s all in the mind. The key is to take a long hard look at what you thought you had, what you’ve got, what you want and what you really really should be very grateful for. Then it’s all very simple.